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Horses, Looms and Secret Gardens: a Q&A with the author of The War I Finally Won

If you haven’t read Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s marvellous Newbery Honor Book,
The War That Saved My Life, you need to, because her just as wonderful sequel, The War I Finally Won, is finally out now.  

The War I Finally Won is a story of courage set in England during the dark days of World War II that concludes Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s classic tale about family, identity and a young girl learning her value and finding a home.

Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their guardian, Susan, in a cottage in the English countryside, on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie, Ada’s dearest friend. Life in the crowded cottage is tense. Then Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? Everyone is horrified. Ada must decide – where do her loyalties lie?

‘Achingly lovely…Nuanced and emotionally acute, this vivid tale from the wartime home front will have readers ages 10 – 14 wincing at Ada’s stumbles and rejoicing to the point of tears in her victories.’ Wall Street Journal

We sat down with the amazingly talented Ms Bradley and asked her a few questions about the writing process and about Ada (no spoilers, we promise!):

Ada, Jamie and Susan are such wonderfully vivid characters, as is theworld you have created. Which were the books that made you feel the same way as a child?
I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett that way.

What do you love best about these two books about Ada?
That in the end, I told the story I meant to tell. It wasn’t easy – I’ve never worked through so many drafts in my life – but I’m very happy with both of the final products.

Does writing exhaust or energise you?
Both, at different times. Nailing a scene is the best feeling ever. Sometimes, though, it’s just a slog. I remind myself that this is my job, and I sit down and do it.

Who are your favourite authors now?
So many! I love Linda Sue Park, Victoria Jamieson, Jason Reynolds. I just read a fantastic new book by a woman named Veera Hiranandani, and I want to look up everything else she’s written.

Ada is such a strong and outspoken character – did she tell you what she was going to do in the books or were you in charge the whole time?
Mostly I’m in charge of Ada. After all this time it’s easy for me to sit inside her head and understand her reactions, but I dictate most of what she does. Susan’s another story – sometimes Susan just says things I don’t anticipate that completely crack me up. And Jamie’s a law unto himself.

Describe your writing/work space.
Since we built the house on our farm I have a dedicated office, shaped like an L, with my writing desk built into the wall on the far end of the long side. I’ve got windows framing my computer so there’s plenty of light, but when I’m seated I can’t see out of them, which prevents me from getting distracted by the horses in the pasture. I’ve got a lot of bookshelves, a floor loom, a spinning wheel and a sewing machine – and way, way too many books piled all over the floor. I’m going to do something about that; I’m buying more shelves.

What’s the best thing about being an author?
Being paid to tell stories? Connecting with readers? Calling all my travels research? Setting my own hours? It’s all fantastic. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am.

What are you working on now?
A book set around the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. I finished a first draft, but it’s crap, so no one knows when it’ll be published.

Just between you and us, we think that last answer is slightly devastating. Fingers crossed Kimberly gets that manuscript into shape and into our hands sooner rather than later. In the meantime though, isn’t it marvellous that we have both these books to read over and over again?

And if you click here to visit our book page for The War I Finally Won, you'll find a video of Kimberly Brubaker Bradley telling you a little bit more about her book in person and in horse!

The War I Finally Won

The War I Finally Won

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War I Finally Won is out now at all good bookshops, on the Text website (free postage!) and in eBook.

Until next time,

Keep reading,

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